Zarb Saray al-Jadid within a hexafoil, "VV" below (77 - perhaps for 757 AH / 1356 AD) / Flower ornament, no inscriptions. 17mm, 1.72 grams. Mint of Saray al-Jadid. Fedorov-Davidov #122ff.
Jani Beg (died 1357) was a khan of the Golden Horde from 1342 to 1357, succeeding his father Uzbeg Khan. After putting two of his brothers to death, Jani Beg crowned himself in Saray-Jük. He is known to have actively interfered in the affairs of Russian principalities and of Lithuania. The Grand Princes of Moscow, Simeon Gordiy, and Ivan II, were under constant political and military pressure from Jani Beg. Jani Beg commanded a massive n Tatar force that attacked the n port city of Kaffa in 1343. The siege was lifted by an Italian relief force in February. In 1345 Jani Beg again besieged Kaffa, however, his assault was again unsuccessful due to an outbreak of the Black Plague among his troops. It is thought that Jani Beg's army catapulted infected corpses into Kaffa in an attempt to use the Black Death to weaken the defenders. Infected Genoese sailors subsequently sailed from Kaffa to Genoa, introducing the Black Death into Europe. The reign of Jani Beg was marked by the first signs of the feudal strife which would eventually contribute to the demise of the Golden Horde. Jani Beg's assassination in 1357 opened a quarter-century of political turmoil within the Golden Horde.